§ Lord Elton
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What are the powers of the Lord Chancellor; when, by whom and by what means they were conferred on the holder of that office; and by what means and authority they can be alienated; and [HL3472]
What are the duties of the Lord Chancellor; when, by whom and by what means they were conferred on the holder of that office; and by what means and authority they can be alienated; and [HL3473]
What are the privileges of the Lord Chancellor; when, by whom and by what means they were conferred on the holder of that office; and by what means and authority they can be alienated; and [HL3474]
What were the powers, duties and privileges of the Lord Chancellor on 30 January 2003; which, if any, of them have since been alienated; and by whom, by what means and under what authority such alienation has been accomplished. [HL3475]
§ The Lord Chancellor (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)
The office of Lord Chancellor is an ancient one under the Crown. In latter days the Lord Chancellor has been a Minister of the Crown and head of the judiciary as well as Speaker of your Lordships' House. The office has a wide range of powers, duties and privileges which have been conferred over time by the sovereign, by law, by custom and usage, by charters and other instruments, and by your Lordships' House. They can be alienated by primary or secondary legislation, by agreement with the conferring authority and others, or by amendment of the relevant legal instruments. The Government will be publishing a consultation document in September setting out the issues to be addressed in relation to the Lord Chancellor's roles that do not relate to the Speakership, his functions as departmental Minister or his judicial capacity.
None of the important powers, duties or privileges of the Lord Chancellor has been alienated since 30 January. Although it was announced on 12 June that the Office of Lord Chancellor is to be abolished in its present form, I have been appointed as Lord Chancellor in order that I may continue to exercise the powers of that office for the transitional period. Certain responsibilities in relation to children and families including responsibility for the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) are to be transferred to the Secretary of State for Education and Skills. These changes have not yet been given formal legal effect. An initial transfer of functions order under the Ministers of the Crown Act 1975 is expected to be made at the Privy Council meeting on 17 July and will be laid before Parliament in the usual way. This order is intended to transfer 22WA from the Lord Chancellor to the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs only certain of the Lord Chancellor's principal ministerial responsibilities specifically in relation to legal aid and legal services, regulation of the legal profession, freedom of information, data protection, human rights and elections, and certain powers in the Courts Act 1971 in relation to the administration of the courts. The order will not deal with any functions relating to the judiciary.
§ Lord Ackner
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Why, having decided to abolish or reform the office of Lord Chancellor, they did not decide to set up a Ministry of Justice. [HL3739]
§ The Lord Chancellor
I refer the noble and learned Lord to the Answer I gave to Lord Lester of Herne Hill on 7 July (Official Report, WA1).